The week of September 21, the House of Representatives will vote on The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (MORE Act). The vote on this potentially historic bill which would expunge many people’s criminal records for cannabis, develop a grant program for those who have been harmed by the criminalization of cannabis, and facilitate nationwide cannabis legalization has been imminent, but now there is a date.
Last week in a letter, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn announced the House would be voting for it in September. “During the September work period, the House is expected to consider H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act). The MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow state law to determine the status of marijuana legality for each state,” Clyburn’s letter read. “The bill also requires federal courts to expunge prior marijuana-related convictions and arrests and authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund.”
Back in July, Marijuana Moment reported the MORE Act going up for a vote was likely to happen and it should be noted, that the MORE Act does not automatically legalize cannabis, but rather, facilitates legalization by decriminalization. States can opt out of legalization and must pass their own laws to legalize it. Nevertheless, the MORE Act going up for a vote in the House is encouraging news.
“Passage of The MORE Act is essential in order to truly right the wrongs of federal marijuana criminalization, and to once and for all allow the majority of states that have legalized cannabis for either medical or adult-use to embrace these policies free from the threat of undue federal prosecution or interference,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “A House floor vote will put our federal lawmakers on record. We will know who stands with the majority of Americans in supporting an end to the failed federal policy of marijuana prohibition, and equally importantly, we will know when Congress wishes to continue to threaten the freedom and liberty of the millions of Americans who reside in states that have enacted common-sense alternatives to cannabis criminalization.”
The Republican-led Senate however, is unlikely to pass the MORE Act. Still, there has been growing interest in the cannabis reform bill because of its lead sponsor, Senator for California Kamala Harris, recently chosen by Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has been very hesitant to endorse cannabis reform.
As Marijuana Moment reported last week, Representative Barbara Lee, who is also the Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair (and was briefly teased as a vice presidential possibility for Biden’s campaign) spoke to Maryland-based cannabis advocate Shanita Penny
for RevoltTV. There, Lee encouraged Biden to go further and support legalization and framed where Biden currently stands when it comes to cannabis.
“He supports decriminalization. He supports the expungement of records. He supports restorative justice,” Lee said. “And he supports medicinal marijuana—and also he does support, which I think is important, not allowing the federal government to interfere where states have passed either legalization or medicinal marijuana.”